European Values

Tzvetan Todorov on being European:

You have often written wonderful words about European values. Does a European identity exist and what are the main European values?

Well, I actually think that one should not try to enumerate European values, because the European identity is an open one, it is changing, and because it can always include new ingredients as well. Nevertheless, the European identity is not something arbitrary. By this I mean that in Europe a specific status for differences has been created. This is really what characterizes Europe, compared to other major civilizations and groups such as China, the United States or even Russia, where there is always an attempt to unify even what is a very heterogeneous society within the same values and the same centralized organization. The specificity of Europe, and of the European Union in particular, is that it maintains the diversity of its members while providing them with a certain status, which means that first of all, there is of course an obligation of tolerance (we no longer wage wars against each other), but beyond that we elaborate our opinions by becoming capable of comparing and criticizing the opinions of our neighbours.

Finally, we also try to achieve the kind of State described long ago by Jean-Jacques Rousseau as the identification of a general will. The general will, the will of the whole community, and in this case of the Continent, can never means the uniform, homogeneous, total agreement of all members, but a set of perspectives taking into account even small differences, as well as major ones of course, between its members. And this specific status of diversity, plurality within unity, is what really characterizes Europe. So to my mind, one should not identify Europe within any substantial context, but rather in a way allowing these differing and changing contents to coexist.

via 3quarks daily

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